I always have a goal and I always have a plan. As a university student, I thought I was headed towards a hopefully satisfying and rewarding career by working hard and studying subjects that interested me and that I enjoyed, by getting some experience in the field of work I was interested in at that time, and by being open to different work possibilities. In retrospect, what I wish I’d spent more time doing was talking to people working in areas that interested me to better understand those fields. As a result, much of my learning was done the hard way – by finding out for myself – but I’m ok with that. I believe quite strongly that decisions we make can only be viewed as being the best ones we were or are able to make at that specific point in time.
Every position I’ve ever held – camp counsellor, jobs in retail and at McDonalds, trophy assembler, summer accounting student, Dietitian, consultant, and several others including many volunteer positions and multiple roles at the UTM Career Centre, has taught me something. Sometimes I learned or confirmed what I liked – numbers, being busy, lots of variety, the need to help others in some way and be able to see that to some degree, working with a diverse group of colleagues, etc., etc. Sometimes I discovered things I found challenging in work settings – writing long reports, work environments reluctant to change, colleagues with very different work ethics from mine, unpredictable work schedules, etc., etc. – but I realized that finding out what I didn’t like was as important as finding out what I did.
In short, I was always heading somewhere and was always learning something that helped me think about opportunities I might consider next. If I’d talked to more people to find out what they liked or didn’t like about their jobs, I might have realized that some positions I thought were interesting probably weren’t the best fit for me. Oh! Well – I found out anyway, it just wasn’t always the easy way. I did eventually though find a good fit.
My role at the UTM Career Centre has changed and evolved many times since I started here a number of years ago. I began in a part-time role which worked well when my children were younger, all my positions have involved some front line work with students – an inspiring, and diverse population I really enjoy interacting with, most of my roles have included a significant amount of financial work which appeals to my inner number happy self, and for a number of years my role has included supervising a group of student staff which involves an incredible variety of skills and responsibilities that keeps me busy and always learning new things – just the combination of things it took me many years to figure out was good for me even though I could never have envisioned where I would find it or what it might be called. It’s been a long and winding road that I’ve enjoyed travelling!
Have you begun to find things you like or don’t like from opportunities you’ve had? Every experience – paid, volunteer, part-time, summer and full-time – will teach you something I guarantee. Good luck on your learning journey!
Eileen Sweeney-Bergen – Coordinator, Resource Centre and Administration
Picture Sources: www.collegeview.com